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Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books–May edition

IT’S TIME TO SHOW US YOUR BOOKS!!! Although, I think I misrepresent what month I’m actually discussing because I’ve been using the month I publish the post instead of the month I read the books in. Not sure why I do that. Also, do you love that I used the word “month” 3 times in that sentence?

book button linkup

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating–this is my favorite day of the month. I love learning about what you guys have read, I love stocking up my to-read list even more, and I love sharing with you what I’ve read. Because books. Books are the best.

This was actually a very slow reading month for me. I blame my weeklong vacation for part of it but I also realized I spent a lot of time reading in-depth investigative pieces. While some people indulge in magazines as a balance to books, I enjoy investigative journalism. It feeds my need to learn differently than books do and, since I’m not currently working, it helps keep the “smart” part of my brain sharper. I’ll link to some of my favorite stories in my Friday recap because today we focus on books. 

Here’s what I read:

That Night by Chevy Stevens. I liked her book Still Missing which prompted me to read this one. I read it in an afternoon. It reminded me of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places but less…dark. Don’t get me wrong. This is still a dark book. But it’s a little lighter at heart, if that makes sense. It tells the story of a woman and her boyfriend sent to prison for the murder of her younger sister, and how they try to prove their innocence one they’re released from their 15 year sentences. The high school bullying part of the story is hard to read but, unlike in some other books, the bullying is integral to the plot. It’s a fast paced, engaging story and I highly recommend the book although, disclaimer, I read this book in the days following my miscarriage and it provided the distraction I needed from crying and staring at the walls so my opinion might be a bit skewed. 

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado. Warning: Long review ahead. I could have written an entire series of posts on this book. I remember reading the viral essay that prompted her to write the book (and capitalize on going viral by starting a Go Fund Me campaign, which, if you have a spare 15 minutes, take the time to read it. It’s helpful, along with her original essay, to put her background into perspective if you plan to read the book), and, given my interest in poverty issues, prompted me to read it. The book is a fascinating read and introduces a firsthand perspective into being part of the working poor that I’ve never read before (well, in book form. There are some long form blog posts that are just as fascinating). The points that she raises get you thinking but unfortunately, some of the time, the angry, bitter, resentful tone of the book completely overshadows what she’s saying. I get why she’s frustrated but her attacks and overgeneralizations and stereotypes of anyone who’s not poor or working poor gets really old really quick. Her presumptions towards the middle class and “rich” (a term she overuses) are just as rude and obnoxious as the attitudes she’s trying to combat. She doesn’t want anyone in the higher economic classes judging her or her choices yet she does the same thing. She does admit that her observations are based solely on her experiences but throughout the book, she speaks as if she is speaking for the entirety of the working poor so it’s slightly contradictory. Overall, though, I enjoyed the book. I read it in a weekend. The author is intelligent, she’s a great writer, and if she publishes more books, I’ll read them and I do recommend this one if these are the kinds of issues that pique your interest. But be prepared for the vitriolic tone and a plethora of the word “fuck”.

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller. Talk about a click bait book title. Honestly, based on his reviews of the books he read, I had a tough time figuring out which ones he loved and which ones he hated because he actually seemed to dislike more than he liked. I also don’t understand the “saved my life part” but that might have something to do with the fact that I stopped reading this book with 80ish pages left. I simply couldn’t take it anymore. The book started out great. He was funny, engaging, passionate, and although I won’t tackle any of the books on his “Betterment List” (that’s what he calls his to-read list. I thought it was a snobby title but whatever), he did make them seem tempting. Then it all stopped. The book became boring and annoying and pretentious and the ridiculously long footnotes became more cumbersome than intriguing. I had to put it down and walk away. 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I learned about this book from Lisa and first checked it out from the library in March. I kept getting distracted by other books but this month I finally got around to reading it. It’s a quirky, fun story and the main character, Allan, reminds me of Forrest Gump with his uncanny ability to wind up in a number of historical events (like the Korean War, working at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project). He also has the best luck of anyone ever, managing to escape death, prosecution, and torture more than once. The bouncing back and forth between the modern story got annoying after awhile because I found the modern story much better than the past. Except for the parts with Albert Einstein’s imaginary brother, Herbert. I enjoyed that. I definitely laughed out loud several times, and enjoyed the story once I finally got into it. It did drag at times but overall, it turned out to be a good read and I’d recommend it. 

Up next for me: Saving Francesca, Let It Be, The Storied Life of AJ Firky, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, The Leisure Seeker, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, and What Alice Forgot. Should be a busy month.

Separately and not at all related to reading–happy 11th birthday to my first baby, Barkley! He is the most appropriately named dog in the history of dogs and, while he’s slowing down a little in his oldish age, he’s still spunky, cuddly, charming, and he’s not above stealing food off your plate. And he definitely appreciates the value of falling asleep with a good book.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know what you read! Nonbloggers (or anyone that didn’t write a post), leave a comment and bloggers, link up below. And for the organized among us, the next one is June 9:

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37 Comments

  1. Kerry

    I added That Night to my list of books to read. The Storied Life of AJ is on there too. So many good books to read, best day of the month for sure. Barley is looking adorable, Happy Birthday to him.
    Kerry recently posted…CelebratingMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      He says thank you!

      I hope you enjoy That Night. Looking forward to your review!

      Reply
  2. Kristen

    aww happy birthday to Barkley.
    I felt the same about the 100 year old man. The history parts were a bit boring and while I did enjoy some parts, overall it dragged and I just didn’t love it. But it was okay.
    That Night sounds interesting! and yes, this is my favourite day of the month – boooookss!
    Kristen recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It definitely was not my favorite read but I liked it. I wonder if it lost something in the translation to English and that’s why it dragged.

      Barkley says thank you 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kristin

    Yep, some months I will read or listen to one really long book and it throws everything else off. I liked A.J. Fikry (try Elsewhere by Zevin too..I liked it) and What Alice Forgot was just okay to me. Big Little Lies was better.
    Kristin recently posted…April BooksMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks for the info! I’ll check out the other Zevin book and Big Little Lies is on my to-read list. This one just came in first 🙂

      Reply
  4. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    That night sounds interesting.

    I have Bootstrap America on my list but it’s not at the library and I’m not really interested in buying it. I’ve heard other reviews echoing what you said about the hypocrisy of her not wanting to be judged or grouped but grouping and generalizing others. I have a hard time with a disconnect like that.

    I always hit at least two months a year that are really slow for me reading-wise. A combo of things going on and my brain just needing a break from it.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Show Us Your Books – What I Read in AprilMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      You enjoyed You and The Girl on the Train and Still Missing so I think you’ll like That Night.

      It was definitely a hard read at times as a result of the hypocrisy but I’m glad I made my way through it even if there were section I hate-read. She’s not a likable person, at least not in her book. Definitely not one I’d buy so waiting it out at the library was a good choice.

      Reply
  5. Kellli

    I added That Night a few weeks ago but was still on the fence about it, I think I’ll keep it on To Reads and give it a try.
    Kellli recently posted…It’s All About The Books – Vol. 3My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s a good afternoon beach read. It’s not too involved of a story but definitely keeps you interested.

      Reply
  6. Christina

    I’ve had Hand to Mouth on my list forever. Your review is helpful, so I know what I’m getting into when I do read it. I’m adding That Night and The 100-Year Old Man to my list right now!
    Christina recently posted…What I Read in AprilMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Please let me know when you read it. I’m dying to have someone to discuss it with!

      Reply
  7. lisacng @ expandng.com

    The Hand to Mouth sounds interesting but not sure the way you describe her attitude is very appetizing. I might give it a shot. So glad you like The 100 Year Old Man! I actually like the past story more than the modern story. The made-up Einstein brother was hilarious.
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Tweetviews – book reviews in 140 charactersMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      She does not come across as likeable. Contemptable is a good word for her. It’s hard to separate the personality from the words but if you can, it’s an interesting read.

      Herbert was my favorite part of the flashbacks.

      Reply
  8. Kimmi

    I will have to check out That Night because I loved Dark Places!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Yes, you definitely should! Not quite as dark as Dark Places which is nice. That kind of darkness can get to you after awhile.

      Reply
  9. Erin @ TexErin-in-SydneyLand

    I picked up Still Missing not too long ago from a second hand bookstore. Haven’t read it yet, but I added That Night because they sound like my kind of books.
    Erin @ TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…I show you my books; you show me yours…My Profile

    Reply
    1. Erin @ TexErin-in-SydneyLand

      and Happy Birthday to Barkley!!!
      Erin @ TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…I show you my books; you show me yours…My Profile

      Reply
      1. Jana (Post author)

        He says thank you 🙂

        Reply
    2. Jana (Post author)

      I loved Still Missing but the end bugged me a bit. I’d still recommend it, though.

      Reply
  10. Linda Sheridan

    Happiest birthday to Barkley! Love that picture!!!
    Thanks for the reviews. I have been passing these blogs along
    to my friends who read books and they love the reviews. I will lose myself in a book soon.

    Have a happy day!

    Love, SMD’s Momma

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks, and thanks for sharing the posts with your friends!

      Reply
  11. Nadine

    Awe, Barkley!!! Happy Birthday to that cutie! 🙂

    I think I am going to add That Night to my list! It sounds very interesting. I have What Alice Forgot and The Universe vs Alex Woods on my list to read as well. So many books!!!!
    Nadine recently posted…The No More Excuses DietMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      There are so many books!!! And I must read all of them!

      Barkley says thank you!

      Reply
  12. Nicole

    I read Still Missing from Chevy Stevens too and really enjoyed it, except the little plot twist at the end, it seemed too unrealistic that a mother would do that to their daughter. Anyway, adding the new one to my “to read” list along with the hundred year old man book 🙂
    Nicole recently posted…End of the Week RoundupMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      That part bothered me, too. It was too far fetched. Hope you like the other one!

      Reply
  13. alyssa

    This is the second or third time I’m seeing some of these titles pop up on friends’ recently read lists so maybe I should start paying attention. I’ve been slow for the past few weeks finishing up Summer by Edith Wharton but I’ll be done today and can’t wait to devour something new!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I love when I see a title show up multiple times. It’s like a sign I should read the book!

      Reply
  14. Amber

    What Alice Forgot was a really good one.
    Amber recently posted…Hey, It’s Okay Tuesday!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m excited to read it.

      Reply
  15. Gwen

    Happy Birthday to Barkley! I added That Night to my list and I have Saving Francesca waiting for me to read. I just read about your miscarriage, and I’m so sorry. That could have attributed to a slow reading month, too. I’m certain that grief has played a big part in my lack of reading the last several months.
    Gwen recently posted…Some Stuff I Read Since the Last Time I Wrote About Stuff I ReadMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The grief did make it hard to read this month. I just couldn’t focus on anything for any period of time. I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a tough time, too.

      Reply
  16. Karen

    These all sound like such great books. I would love to read That Night, it sounds totally up my alley.
    Karen recently posted…What I’ve Been Reading LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Definitely the one from this month I’d recommend above the others. If you haven’t read Still Missing, it’s by the same author and I’d recommend that one, too.

      Reply
  17. Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage

    Aww what a sweet picture of Barkley!! I’m adding That Night to the list! I did read the essay by Tirado perviously, I didn’t realize she had a book.
    Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage recently posted…Show Us Your Books: AprilMy Profile

    Reply
  18. Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet

    I’m a bit late to linking up, but I am loving finding new book recommendations! Thanks for hosting this! I will for sure be back in June 🙂
    Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet recently posted…Quick Frozen Caramel CoffeeMy Profile

    Reply
  19. Kate

    I really liked Still Missing too so I will need to check out That Night!
    Kate recently posted…The good, the okay and the bad of books latelyMy Profile

    Reply

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